Fullmetal Alchemist review

Apr 16, 2021
I usually don't review manga, but I'm making an exception for this one since it is so popular.

When I started reading this manga, I was tired of seeing the same shounen anime tropes, especially the strong female character who also serves as fanservice and unrealistically strong male protagonists. While I can enjoy shounen anime and manga despite these tropes, I really craved something different. Full Metal Alchemist satisfied that craving.

This manga is set in a steampunk world where some people rely on the power of alchemists, people who can destroy objects and reconstruct them into something else. Some of the alchemists are military officials known as state alchemists while others are just everyday people. As described by the manga's synopsis, alchemy is at the heart of the manga's story. However, there is more to the manga than this.

While alchemy was one of the most enjoyable aspects of the manga, other amazing aspects included the use of automail, the characters, and the themes woven within the story. Automail is a type of metal used as prosthetics body parts. It looks cool and is so functional I wish it were real. My favorite characters that use automail are Edward Elric and Paninya.

Speaking of the characters, they are the most refreshing and relatable characters I've ever seen in the shounen genre. The lead shounen protagonist Edward is a realist when it comes to personal faith, but also optimistic, caring, and considerate toward others. A particularly touching scene with Edward occurs when he is yelling at someone (can't spoil who) and he talks about how hard it is for a single mother, speaking from his own mother's experience. Another scene I liked was when he used alchemy to fix the damage he caused with his battles. This was the first male manga character I've seen do this and it was nice to see.

Other characters I liked were Edward's brother Al (he was badass in the armor & has good char. development) and Scar (who has the best char. arc besides the Elric bros.). All the other characters I liked were female. Almost all the female characters in this manga had major roles and practically zero fanservice. No big boobs or boob gags to be found. The closest thing to fanservice is when one character is sitting in a bathtub, but nothing explicit is shown. This is rare in the shounen genre, but as a female reader I welcomed it.

Anyway, the female characters I liked were Izumi Curtis (a tough as nails housewife, alchemist, sensei, and mother figure), Winry (automail mechanic who built Ed's arm and leg and fixes the arm), Paninya (she has automail legs that are also weapons), and Mei (a little girl who is brave, strong, and funny).

Another aspect of the characters I liked was how racially diverse they were. Ed and similar characters were modeled after Europeans, Scar and his fellow Ishvarians reminded me of Muslims, and Mei and similar characters are reminiscent of East Asians.

All together, alchemy and the characters driving the plot are a part of interesting social commentary on things like goverment corruption, personal faith, discrimination, warfare, and more. Depending on how much of it you notice, it may make you think a bit while you read.

Overall, I really enjoyed this series and it has become my favorite shounen manga series ever. After reading and watching shounen manga and anime by men, it was truly refreshing to read a popular shounen manga series by a woman. I don't know if there will ever be another manga series or female manga creator that can follow suit, but other creators could take a page or two from this series.



Fullmetal Alchemist
Fullmetal Alchemist
Autor Arakawa, Hiromu